A real Tuscan treasure

Pisa may be best known for its world-famous gravity-defying leaning tower, but it’s certainly not the only thing worth shouting about in this dynamic and attractive Italian city. Maritime history, manicured gardens, a historic university, sublime Renaissance piazzas, impressive art collections, street art and the scenic River Arno – it’s hard to know where to start. Many choose to begin their Pisa holidays at the rather marvellous Piazza dei Miracoli – the ‘square of miracles’.

As well as being home to the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, you’ll find Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta, a spectacular, free-to-enter 11th-century cathedral. Another grand square that will stop you in your tracks is the Piazza delle Vettovaglie, where Pisa’s farmers’ market is regularly held. Here you can stock up on all kinds of top-quality Italian produce as gifts for those back home. Holidays to Pisa are also ideal if you want to spend time exploring the wider Tuscany region.

Pisa sits at its heart, just 12 kilometres from the pretty beach-lined coast and also not far from Tuscany’s capital Florence, the medieval town of Lucca and the Chianti wine region. With its history, grand monuments and excellent location, this Tuscan city is a real Italian superstar.

All resorts in Pisa

Three tips for a top trip

Hop on a bike

Cycling is a fantastic way to explore Pisa – if you’re feeling adventurous you could even continue your ride into the bucolic Tuscan countryside outside the city.

Head to the Lungarnos

Take your time exploring the streets which run adjacent to the River Arno – the ‘Lungarnos’ – where you’ll find all manner of bars and restaurants. It’s particularly pretty at sunset.

Enjoy Pisa’s gardens

Head to the Giardino Scotto, close to the River Arno, a verdant park set within the walls of an ancient fortress. The University of Pisa’s gardens are also lovely.

Best attractions to see in Pisa

The Leaning Tower

Take time to marvel at Pisa’s mind-bending architectural feat. This lop-sided bell tower is an example of medieval Romanesque-style architecture and contains more than 200 columns.

Pisa Luminara

Each year on 16 June, San Ranieri, the patron saint of Pisa, is celebrated. Candles light up the city, followed by fireworks, and there’s a regatta the following day.

Tuttomondo

This impressive mural on the side of the Sant’Antonio Abate church features a mishmash of colourful figures painted in 1989 by American artist Keith Haring.

Your Pisa questions, answered

Look out for ‘cecina toscana’, delicious bread made from chickpea flour, water, olive oil and salt. It’s crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and utterly moreish.
Construction began on Pisa’s famous tower during the 12th century and it began to lean soon after, thanks to soft ground. Today, it’s still more than four degrees off vertical.
From May to October, you'll get sunshine and warmth, with a little rain. In May and October, the average temperature is around 20ºC, in June and September around 24ºC, reaching 28ºC in July and August. Winters are likely to be cold and wet, with the lowest average temperatures dropping to 9ºC in January. You should go in mid-June for the festival of Saint Ranieri, when the city will be lit up and you can watch a regatta on the river. This is followed on the 25th by the Battle on the Bridge, a tug of war between armoured knights.
You can drive in half an hour from Pisa to some of Tuscany's best beaches. Marina di Vecchiano is a nature park north-west of Pisa, where you'll find pinewoods, scrub and sand dunes. Here you'll have four kilometres of sand and clear waters, mostly free and with minimal facilities. You can follow hiking trails and cycle near the sea here. If you prefer your bathing more structured, head in the opposite direction to the sandy beaches and nightlife at Tirrenia. If you want to travel by bike or bus, you can also reach the Pisa Lido quite easily.
Pisa’s convenient location means you can visit a number of popular places for the day, including Tuscany’s capital Florence, the Chianti wine region, Siena, Lucca and coastal hotspot La Spezia.
If you're on a Tuscan tour, you could tick off the main sights of Pisa in a single day, but this would be a pity. Two days at least gives you time to eat, drink and relax. In three or four days you could squeeze in a trip to Florence or Siena too. Stay a week if you want to do all these things and perhaps visit a vineyard. There are many areas around Pisa to explore, including the Tuscan hills so, if you want to combine culture and nature with shopping or beaches, you could easily stay longer.
Yes, definitely. It's worth it just to see the Leaning Tower up close and personal – though maybe not too close. At certain times, and if you manage to get a ticket, you can climb to the top. Small children aren't allowed, but those aged eight and over can get a terrific view of the Piazza and get freaked out by the sloping floor. Even if you just stop in for the day on your way around Tuscany, it's worth it for that all-important selfie in one of the world's most unusual historic locations.
Pisa is a good place for families, especially if you choose a low or shoulder season period when it won't be too hot and crowded. Children the world over love the Leaning Tower, and there are some fun festivals to watch in June. If your kids are old enough, Pisa is well set up for cycling, with plenty of places to hire and trails to explore. You'll even be able to reach the Marina if you're feeling energetic. This is a family-friendly beach environment protected by huge rocks. You'll find plenty of other beaches too, some with water sports.
Pisa is quite a small city in its old and central part, so you could easily see the main sights on foot. There’s a good public bus service, which serves the airport and many nearby towns. You can get to beaches around Pisa by train and other Tuscan cities like Florence are only just over an hour away on the railway. However, if you're interested in exploring the Tuscan countryside, visiting vineyards or famous hill towns like San Gimignano, you'll definitely need a car.